HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- At a full, raucous Brendon Looney Convocation Center on the campus of DeMatha Catholic HIgh School (Hyattsville, Md.) on Feb. 4, the Stags, coached by Mike Jones, left little doubt of who the top basketball team in the city was that night with a convincing 76-58 win over Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
Led by explosive 6-foot-5 junior combo guard Markelle Fultz and 6-6 sophomore forward D.J. Harvey, the Stags controlled the game from the opening tip with their quickness, athleticism and desire to dominate. Following a so-so perfromance at Bender Arena two nights before against the same Gonzaga team, Jones managed to convince his players that a more cerebral, crisp game would be needed.
Key Terps target Fultz finished the game with 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, 5-of-9 from the free throw line, and one three pointer to go along with 4 assists, 9 rebounds, one steal and most importantly, just one turnover, in a poised performance. He set the stage early and often at both ends of the court.
Playing much of the first half at point guard allowed DeMatha to spread the court and stay calm. His leadership and focus allowed his teammates to set plays patiently while spacing the floor in textbook manner. At the defensive end, the Stags showed quickness and fast-twich ability to match their long wingspans.
The Eagles could find no room to pass into or through the zone looks presented to them. Their only course of action was passing over the zone or try and create off the dribble drive.
However, DeMatha's superior athletes would double down on any such attempts. Maybe 'swarm' would be the best adjective to describe DeMatha's defensive philosophy on the evening. This allowed the Stags to close the first quarter with a lead of 26-10. And it was as one-sided as the score reveals.
Harvey, another Terps target, decided to get involved and join the fun being generated by his teammates in the second quarter, and continued to stay hot through the second half. He finished the game with 17 points on 4-of-6 field goals, 6-of-6 free throws, 6 rebounds, two steals and a block. Harvey kept himself in the game physically and mentally.
He was unselfish and consistently located the open man. Harvey flashed both a pretty jumper, the size to play inside, and as just a sophomore, he's still growing. He doesn't allow emotion to become a part of his game, and he seems enthusiatic around others, especially Fultz.
Once the home team felt comfortable by maintaining an 18-20 point advantage throughout the second and third quarters, they decided to allow the bench into the game. Players like 6-7 senior forward Jaelin Grant, a defensive stalwart with quickness, posed matchup problems for Gonzaga all night. His in-your-face defensive style shut down up-and-coming Eagles star 6-4 freshman forward Eddie Scott (another Terps target), who finished with only 5 points. Grant needs to work on his shooting, but his other attributes are well above average. He was simply all over the court wreaking havoc.
Others Stags of note on the scoreboard included 6-2 sophomore point Ryan Allen with nine points, and 6-2 guard Nate Darling, who finished with seven points.
At a certain point in the second quarter, Coach Steve Turner of Gonzaga decided to pull his highly-touted stars, sophomore PG Chris Lykes and the freshman Scott, to give them rest with the game out of hand. Lykes and Scott had no answers for DeMatha's length and quickness. The deficit remained 18-20 points throughout as each coach substituted freely. With payoffs beginning soon, there was no sense overextending in a game out of hand in the early stages.
While trying to compare Fultz and Harvey, at this stage of their development more similarities have developed versus differences. But one noticed certain qualities during the contest. Fultz plays both inside and out most of the time. But as the game progressed, one noticed a desire to drift outside and shoot jumpers. And why not? He has a tremendous jumper.
Harvey has a bigger, wider frame. He shoots from 15-18 feet comfortably, but as the game got late and defenders begin to feel exhaustion, Harvey went to work, driving, making contact and getting to the line.
Both young stars have been out to see the Terps this season, and vice versa, and are heavy on the UMD radar no doubt. Fultz is blowing up into a Top 30 national talent, one that Maryland highly covets.
Scouting DeMatha's Fultz and Harvey
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